January 17 in freethought history…

benjaminfranklinJanuary 17, 1706 – American printer, scientist, inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin is born in Boston, Massachusetts. A world-famous polymath, Franklin is credited with the invention of the lightning rod (criticized by some clergy for impiously warding off the wrath of God), bifocal eyeglasses and the so-called Franklin stove (a fireplace lined with metal to increase efficiency). Franklin signed by the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, and was an ambassador to France during the American Revolution. Franklin was a self-declared Deist who doubted the divinity of Jesus and thought man’s obligation was to virtue and good works for fellow human beings. He was also a staunch supporter of free speech and separation of church and state, saying that a good religion would support itself, while a bad religion was “obliged to call for the help of the civil power.”   Franklin died in 1790, aged 84.

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